Commentary

A physician who “wins” a malpractice case is still the loser—just less of one


 

“AFRAID OF GETTING SUED? A PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY OFFERS COUNSEL (BUT NO SYMPATHY)” JANELLE YATES (OCTOBER 2009)

The interview with plaintiff attorney Lewis Laska was excellent, although I would quibble with two points. First, it is my belief that no physician has ever “won” a malpractice case. When the verdict is in his (or her) favor, he just loses less. He still pays exorbitant—and probably increased—malpractice insurance fees. He still loses time and income from being away from his practice. And he still suffers the mental anguish that accompanies being sued.

Second, Dr. Laska stated that “[i]nsurance companies never settle unless there is provable liability.” That brings to mind the old adage, “Never say ‘always’ or ‘never’ because there is always an exception.” Most insurance companies know that when you parade a deformed infant in front of a jury, facts will take second place to sympathy. As a result, an insurer may well “play the odds” and settle as the lesser of two evils.

Arthur A. Fleisher II, MD
Northridge, Calif

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